Dr. John Sinclair


Natural Resources Institute
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canada R3T 2M6
Tel.: (204) 474-8374
Fax: (204) 261-0038
E-mail: john.sinclair@umanitoba.ca


B.A. (Hons) Law and Geography concentration, Carleton University, 1984.
M.A. (With distinction), Geography, Carleton University, 1986.
Ph.D. Geography, University of Waterloo, 1991.


Dr. Sinclair has been with the Natural Resources Institute since 1991 after the completion of his Ph.D. in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo. Following his long-standing involvement in non-government initiatives, particularly related to sustainability issues, the theme of civic engagement in resource and environmental decision-making is well reflected in both his research and teaching. John currently teaches courses in environmental assessment, environmental governance, individual and social learning in resource and environmental management and thesis research methods. As well, he lends his considerable field research and teaching experience to the NRI field seminar courses. He is very active both locally and nationally with a number of environmental non-government organizations and professional associations, such as The Green Action Center, the Canadian Environment Network's Environmental Assessment Caucus, which he has chaired on two occasions, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s Regulatory Advisory Committee. John currently chairs the University of Manitoba Sustainability Committee, which recently guided the University Sustainability Action Plan through Board of Governors approval. The University of Manitoba has recognized Dr. Sinclair's outreach activities in the community with awards such as the Campbell Outreach Award.

Research Interests

Dr. Sinclair's main research interest focuses on community involvement in, and learning through, processes of resource and environmental decision-making that aim to ensure our actions are more sustainable. This research meshes well with societal shifts from government to governance and toward discursive democracy that promote the meaningful engagement of citizens in deliberative processes of decision-making.

In the area of environmental assessment (EA), recently published works have explored various aspects of public involvement and learning. Through current research grants, such as from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Canadian Water Network, the role of learning as a critical component of decision making is being considered. This includes analysis of SSHRC funded research that is considering new governance approaches in various resource sectors, particularly water and forest management – including the urban forest. The results will be related to the potential for transformative and social learning through decision making that place a premium on deliberative processes. This work is currently being conducted in Canada, Asia, and Africa.

John's work in the Indian Himalayas is supported by the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute and SSHRC and considers the roles of the public, private and civic sectors in environmental management in mountainous regions. His work in Kenya considers the implications of community-based approaches to EA and other forms of decision making. John is also leading a SSHRC/Community University Research Alliance project titled Common Ground Research Forum: A Cross-Cultural Learning Platform for Resource Sharing (CGRF), which is being carried out in Kenora, Ontario. The CGRF partners include the City of Kenora, Grand Council Treaty #3, the University of Manitoba and The University of Winnipeg, along with numerous other organizations in the public, private and community sectors. Building on the community-led initiative of “Common Ground”, the project is examining how the City of Kenora and its surrounding First Nations are working together in a novel and unique partnership to plan and manage the use of several parcels of heritage land located within the municipality.

Recent Publications

Robson, J., Sinclair, A.J., Davidson-Hunt, I., and Diduck, A. In Press. What’s in a name? The search for ‘common ground’ in Kenora, Northwestern Ontario. Journal of Public Deliberation, 9(2):. Available at: www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol9/iss2/art7

Sinclair, A.J., Kumnerdpet, W., and Moyer J., 2013. Learning sustainable water practices through participatory irrigation management in Thailand. Natural Resources Forum, 37(1): 55-66.

Najjar, D., Spaling, H. and Sinclair, A.J. 2013. Learning about sustainability and gender through Farmer Field Schools in the Taita Hills, Kenya. International Journal of Education and Development, 33(5): 466-475.

Diduck, A.P., Pratap, D., Sinclair, A.J., and Deane S. 2013. Perceptions of the impacts, public participation and learning in the planning, assessment and mitigation of two hydroelectric projects in Uttarakhand, India. Land Use Policy, 33(1): 170-182.

Diduck, A.P., Sinclair, A.J., Hostetler, G. and Fitzpatrick, P.J. 2012. Transformative learning theory, public involvement and natural resource and environmental management. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 55(10): 1311-1330.

Moyer, J., Sinclair, A.J. and Spaling, H. 2012. Working for God and sustainability: The activities of faith-based organizations in Kenya. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit organizations, 23(4): 959-992.

Sinclair, A.J., Schneider, G. and Mitchell, L. 2012. Environmental impact assessment substitution: Experiences of public participants. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 30(2): 85-94.

Richardson, K., Sinclair, A.J., Reed, M.G. and Parkins, J.R. 2011. Constraints to participation in Canadian forest advisory committees: A gendered perspective. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 41(3): 524-532.

Spaling, H., Montes, J. and Sinclair, A.J. 2011. Best practices for promoting participation and learning for sustainability: Lessons from community-based environmental assessment in Kenya and Tanzania. Journal of Environmental Assessment, Policy and Management, 13(3): 343-366.

Kumnerdpet, W. and Sinclair, A.J. 2011. Implementing participatory irrigation management in Thailand, Water Policy, 13(2): 265-286.

Sinclair, A.J., Collins, S. and Spaling, H. 2011. The role of participant learning in community conservation in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya. Conservation and Society, 9(1): 42-53.

Robinson, L., Sinclair, A.J. and Spaling, H. 2010. Traditional pastoralist decision-making processes: Lessons for reforms to water resources management in Kenya, Journal of Environmental Planning & Management, 53(7): 847-862.

Doelle, M., and Sinclair A.J. 2010. Mediation in environmental assessment in Canada: Unfulfilled Promise? Dalhousie Law Journal, 33(1): 117-152.

Shukla, S. and Sinclair, A.J. 2010. Strategies for self-organization: Learning from a village-level community-based conservation initiative in India, Human Ecology, 38(2): 205-215.

Professional Activities 2014

  • Member, (Past Chair) Canadian Environment Network - Environmental Assessment Caucus
  • Member, Regulatory Advisory Committee, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
  • Past President (founding member of the Board of Directors), Manitoba Model Forest Inc.
  • Member, Environment and Resources Working Group, Canadian Association of Geographers
  • Chair, Orals Sub-Committee, Canon Envirothon
  • Member, Environmental Studies Association of Canada
  • Member, Manitoba Law Reform Commission, Environment Act Review Committe
  • Member, International Association of Impact Assessment
  • Member, Asian Studies Association
  • Member, International Association for the Study of Common Properties
  • Chair, University of Manitoba Sustainability Committee